Due to social distancing and stay-at-home orders in the U.S., many businesses have moved to working remotely. And while being able to work from home is a great benefit of modern technology, it also comes with its own set of challenges. Below we have some tips for managing remote employees and teams so your business can stay productive despite current circumstances.
Provide Different Communication Options
Communicating with your team only through email is not enough. Remote workers benefit from having more options, especially in situations where quick collaboration is important. Platforms like Zoom, Slack, and Microsoft Teams can be used on mobile devices and work better for time-sensitive or less formal communication. And luckily, it’s never been easier to get set up on these tools, since many of them are free right now.
Have Scheduled Daily Check-Ins
Inc.com says you should be in regular communication with your team. And we agree. One of the hardest things about working from home, especially if you’re used to a social environment, is the loneliness and isolation that sets in. That’s especially true considering that people also have to social distance in their personal lives right now. The most important part of these check-ins is that they are scheduled and in a format in which employees know they can consult with you, and that their concerns and questions will be heard.
Provide Opportunities for Non-Work Related Conversations
Harvard Business Review suggests creating ways for employees to have conversations and interact about non-work topics while working remotely. This interpersonal interaction is particularly important for workers who have been abruptly transitioned to working from home. One good way to do this is to have a “virtual happy hour” or “virtual pizza party” over video chat. Another way to establish social interaction is to have time at the beginning of other business calls for non-work related items. While these ideas may sound forced, remote employees report that virtual events can reduce feelings of isolation.
Set Realistic Expectations For Your Team and Yourself
Since many workers have suddenly transitioned to remote work, it is likely that they are contending with other distractions at home. This is due to school and daycare closures, and unexpected parenting responsibilities. Help your team figure out what they should do, then create realistic expectations for their work. And don’t forget to do it for yourself as well! Setting clear and realistic expectations up front makes it so there are no surprises down the road.
Mostly Importantly, Be Flexible and Understanding
Due to current circumstances, your team has a lot going on. Now that’s not an excuse for not getting work done, but it is a reason to reconsider what real productivity is. Work habits will change, and regular work hours probably will as well. It is your job to trust your team and give them the flexibility to get their work done on the schedule that helps them be the most productive. Your team will benefit from this flexibility and understanding in the long run.
We hope these tips for managing remote employees will help you and your team stay productive and positive so your business can thrive from wherever you are!
For more insights on marketing strategy that actually works for small business, connect with Jay Bean, Founder of FreshLime and Small Business Marketing Expert on LinkedIn and Twitter. If any of these tips have helped you or if you have anything to add, please comment below. We’d love to hear from you!